FAO Discusses Land Reform in Porto Alegre

Via Campesina is organizing a parallel activity to the official discussions and is putting together an encampment of 2,000 rural workers.

After almost 30 years, the UN agency for Food and Agriculture (FAO) will be discussing land reform on an international scale. The Second International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development will be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, from March 7th to 10th at the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul with the participation of UN-member governments.

FAO is the acronym of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Its first president was the Brazilian geographer Josuė de Castro, who dedicated his life to the fight against hunger and the huge unproductive estates known in Portuguese as latifúndios.

From March 6th to 9th, a parallel Forum on Land, Work, and Dignity will also be held at the Catholic University, with the participation of more than 30 groups from civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social movements. Around 400 people will take part as observers as the FAO discusses topics such as the policies of the World Bank, market-style agrarian reform, food sovereignty, and the criminalization of social movements.

Via Campesina, an international group of peasants, small farmers, and indigenous people, will also promote its own activities and will put together an encampment of 2,000 rural workers in Porto Alegre between March 6th and 10th. The encampment will bring together landless workers, small farmers, women, youth, and people affected by dams (mainly in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina) who will provide a counterpoint to the discussions of the official conference.

Via Campesina Brazil is planning activities in Porto Alegre against the agricultural policies of the World Bank and for the fulfillment of the Federal government’s commitments that were put forward in the Second National Plan for Agrarian Reform and in the agreement signed after the National March for Land Reform. The people in the encampment will also participate in a seminar about Agrarian Reform, Food Sovereignty, and also the policies of the international agricultural agencies.

Discussion of ideas The activities should put on the table for discussion the models of agrarian reform being proposed by international agencies, governments, and social movements. Another critical point for the social movements is the influence of agencies such as the World Bank over agricultural policies, causing the poor countries to opt for marketing their land. ´The World Bank defends separating the social question of agrarian reform and turning it into a question of the market. Only those with money will have access“, states Cedenir de Oliveira, of the MST coordinating group in Rio Grande do Sul.

There will also be a large mobilization of women peasants and small farmers on March 8, International Women’s Day.

Igor Felippe Santos
Minga Informativa/ MST